May 24, 2004

It has been a challenge, these past few days, to obtain anything of computer time at all. This is the traditional unofficial beginning of summer. Libraries reduce their hours. (Don't expect regular Sunday blog postings until at least October.) Outdoor recreation begins in earnest. People beg, borrow, or as a last resort buy tents and head to water (or some approximation thereof) for the weekend.

This year, they were carrying umbrellas as charms against the rain, and viewing the rare moments of sunlight with suspicion.

It has possibly been the single worst weather possible for tenting. Some years have seen snow and even blizzards on this date -- and after this winter and its very late snow, many had been wondering.

Snow would have been better.

A stagnant and highly unstable air mass, with near stationary latitudinal fronts trapping it in place, arrived last week, and stayed. And stayed. And stayed. Compared to last year's tornado swarm in the United States it was nothing, less than nothing compared to what has been happening in Haiti and the Dominican Republic: no one killed, nothing more than cuts and scrapes for personal injury, only property damaged, lightning strikes and tornados. The rain, at least, was well received by the farmers: no drought this year, recovery of water table from several past droughts. There was not nearly as much flooding as there could have been. It feels as though half the local population escaped to the beaches for the weekend. The tornados, at least, missed those areas -- but some will return to find their houses gone.

This weather had been forecast to end today. We had been averaging two to three vicious storms a day. Sometimes lightning continues during the intervals between storms. The building where I live is the highest building for miles, and thus acts as the local lightning rod. Last night, about two hours after the storms were forecast to have stopped for the day and after I had fallen asleep, our building was struck by lightning, twice, in rapid succession. Then the car alarms went off, triggered by the concussion of the thunder. Then the generator went on. After a few minutes, it went off again.

Then the building was struck again.

I am very tired. Even those cracks of thunder did not wake me up, not completely. I was awake enough to check where the storms had gone tornadoic and whether I was in their path, and then I fell asleep again.

An hour later, the clock radio went off spontaneously.

The storms should break today, but now the forecast office is calling for more rain and more storms tomorrow, and the day after that. Another weather warning has just been issued. The electricity should begin flickering momentarily.

Smile of the day:

If you are standing in the main street of Amsterdam, and can't see the clock tower of the Central Railway Station, that means it is raining. If you can see the clock tower, that means it is about to rain.

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